Parkland, housing and retail bonanza in $3 billion Showground masterplan
THOUSANDS of homes, commercial space and parklands have been revealed as part of a $3 billion residential project to revolutionise future living in the Castle Hill Showground precinct.
The Showground masterplan, revealed exclusively by the Hills Shire Times, includes a proposal for 3600 apartments, with 720 homes dedicated to affordable housing for first-home buyers, service workers, veterans and the disabled.
Developer Urban Planner chief executive Joe Chiha said The Showground provided one of the largest commitments by a private developer for affordable housing in Australia.
“Private and corporate investors agreed to dedicate 10 per cent of all dwellings — 360 apartments — for sale to first-home buyers at below- market rate, along with other incentives including reduced deposit requirements, plus another 10 per cent for sub-market rental by key workers, veterans and the disabled,” Mr Chiha said.
“We have spent the best part of two years in consultation with all stakeholders and we’re determined to meet their needs and set the bar very high with masterplanning.
“Such a large project needs extensive consultation and our desire to deliver a world-class development has meant we consulted with council, the Greater Sydney Commission and the Planning Department to bridge the gap between our vision and our stakeholders.”
The masterplan proposal comes following months of uncertainty for residents after three developers pulled out of plans for the priority precinct.
Mr Chiha said discussions were also enabling the opportunity for Urban Planner to provide two rent-free apartments as accommodation for families who are victims of domestic violence.
“I can guarantee a good deal for first-home buyers with the successful future owners probably having to have their name drawn out of a hat by a government representative,” Mr Chiha said.
“We believe as developers we have a social responsibility to provide much-needed affordable housing, so there will be a range of products from one-, two- and three-bedroom designs and with each type of housing there will be an affordable bracket dedicated to first home buyers and key service workers.”
Mr Chiha said 90,000sq m of residential land would be on offer as part of the masterplanned vision for the future of The Showground Precinct, which would include more than 7000sq m of public open space, 5000sq m of public sporting fields and community amenities funded by Urban Planner, as well as access to Showground Metro Station.
“Our focus has been on creating public spaces that promote health, happiness and wellbeing,” he said.
“Also included in the development will be three childcare centres, a digital room, community shared spaces, street furniture including play equipment and health and fitness equipment, adaptable spaces for an ageing population and precinct-wide free Wi-Fi.
“We have highlighted some important community infrastructure that needs to be included in the precinct to be vibrant and safe.”
Mr Chiha said the proposal was a result of several years of consultation with NSW Planning and The Hills Shire Council.
“We are ready to build a world-class, architecturally superior development where families will want to live,” he said.
“In the early stages our planners and designers highlighted the need to widen the local streets so as to create a safe and functioning street network. The Showground is proposing to deliver street widening to the value of $28 million at no cost to the community.”
Mr Chiha said he hoped to have new residents turning the key to their new home a short time after the Sydney Metro opened, in late 2019.
“We have masterplanned an entire community from scratch and we are ready to start building,” he said.
“Our vision means the buildings are second to the landscape, it is all about integration with the wider community and that is the forefront of our concept.”
Not all gloom for first-home buyers
FIRST-HOME buyers Aimee Le Roux, 23, and Adriaan Henning, 24, are celebrating this week’s announcement of the $3 billion plan for 3600 apartments in the Showground Precinct.
The Cherrybrook couple have been searching for a home for 18 months and say that although getting into the market is tough, masterplans such as this will help ease the burden of buying their first home.
“We have mostly been looking around the Rouse Hill and Kellyville area because you can get your money’s worth when you purchase in new estates,” Miss Le Roux said.
“Existing homes are run down and still cost a bomb despite the fact you need to do them up but new precincts give you value for money.”
Miss Le Roux said the market was not all doom and gloom for first-home buyers.
“All it takes is to know where to invest and recognise how much you are spending every week,” she said.
“The other factor is timing. You need to ask yourself, do you want to spend more money now, cut your losses and look outside Sydney or wait for the market to become more realistic?”
Miss Le Roux said although prices had skyrocketed in the Hills there were still affordable options as developers flooded the market.
“The Hills is family orientated, so I would hope there were affordable housing options for families and not just couples,” she said.
“There is great demand for affordable housing in the Hills and this development is a start and an option for people to get their foot in the door.”
Resident group supports plans
SHOWGROUND Resident Action Group representatives are determined to support the masterplanned community earmarked for Castle Hill’s Showground Precinct.
Spokesman Paul Cook said it made sense to develop the precinct in a masterplanned approach.
“We will see 90,000sq m of residential land and more than 7000sq m of public open space as well as $25 million worth of assets that will benefit the wider community at no cost to ratepayers,” he said. “When all of these plans come together we have all the perfect attributes for a precinct.”
Mr Cook said the developers had worked closely with existing residents and the council for two years to meet the needs of residents.
“What this proposal is showing is that there is a vision for our precinct,” he said. “The developers are looking at the state and council plans and used award-winning architects to design a precinct that suits our community.
“There is clearly a lot of effort that goes into this and it looks like this will be a major benefit for the community.
“What this development group has done is provide everything the council, the State Government and residents are asking for.”
The action group is calling on The Hills Shire Council to show its support for the masterplan.
“This proposal has evolved to accommodate the needs of the community over the past two years and the final result is an upgraded masterplan for the entire community,” Mr Cook said.
“As a community we all need to make sure we are looking after our residents and that there are affordable housing options in the shire.”
Source: Jake McCallum, “Parkland, housing and retail bonanza in $3 billion Showground masterplan”, The Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2018.